I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I used to hate these games. Now I find myself dipping into them way more often than usual. I thought The Walking dead would be the end of it but then I started playing Back to the Future and then Game of Thrones. I thought at first maybe I was becoming a Telltale junkie.
That is until I decided to check out Life is Strange (Available on Everything) an adventure game in the vain of the traditional cause and effect elements I’ve come to expect from these types of outings. However there is one nifty twist. I can rewind time. Not only can I rewind time but I as well as the protagonist retain the knowledge I would have prior to rewinding time. Though, the catch is there will be a consequence either way, a consequence I have yet to live out.
The protagonist’s name is Maxine and she is quite the introvert until she awakens her ability to rewind time. She is quite shy, mousey and afraid to express herself. She feels like a fish out of water. She is somebody I cannot connect with but she is interesting. Before I can figure out too much about her though I am thrust into drama and quick decision making.
*LIGHT SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*
Soon after realizing her powers, I am a witness to a murder. The standard rich boy is at the mercy of a street urchin and he thinks nobody will miss her if he can just kill her to shut her up. I wanted to protect these women so hard. I frantically did what I needed to do to save this mystery girl’s life.
After saving her, I promptly exited the school. However, my escape would not be as smooth as I’d had hoped. The Principal or Headmaster or Dean or whatever stops me and immediately notices the urgency of my exit and knows I’m hiding something. I have the option of telling him what I had witnessed or not. What I had witnessed at that point was the rich kid waving a gun in the women’s bathroom at another women. The first time around, I told the Head Master/Dean/Principal/El Jefe Man-In-Charge about the crime. . . but his reaction was disheartening. I wasn’t sure if it was because the accuser was a woman or… I didn’t know what angle I was being presented with but just to play it safe, I rewound time and decided to hide the truth this time. The weird thing was each time I rewound time, Max had something to say that would make me think she wanted to do the other option. When I told the Principal, she muttered something about him only caring about funding for the school by the kid’s rich family but when I picked the other option she mumbled about ruining her chance at a scholorship. Decisions… decisions…
I didn’t have the presence of mind to take many screenshots, and I wish I had because I learned something. Chicks are pretty awesome. Throughout this episode, I encountered problems not uncommon to boys or men but the way we feel compelled to handle them are different. I cannot put my finger on it exactly but in one situation you watch a situation go from this…
through no fault of any woman in the scene. Be absolutely honest fellas. How often do you feel helpless at the hands of a woman? To this character in question… being helpless at the hands of an abusive father is her life. Sure, she acts out against his abuse but the end result is her being afraid. She’s not a little girl. For me, the comparison stops once each gender reaches adulthood. By her age, a boy would be fighting back and damage would be done to the parent, child or both. She feels helpless and does not fight back. This is a reality the game made me accept despite the fact I can rewind time. Here I was playing a game with characters I had very little in common with but were interested in and they were all women.
All of them held my attention. The game doesn’t feel “feminine” at all. For some reason, I feel as if during development of this game, somebody, somewhere wanted to shoehorn a man in here out of fear it wouldn’t sell. I hear too many stories about women not being able to carry games. If you’re talking about flooding the market with games where women fill the roles of games in the styles of Halo or Gears of War then that would be silly. Sure, there is a place for the ladies in every genre but … come on. Women have their own story to tell which don’t have to involve guns and aliens. Life is Strange is proof of that.
In the first episode alone it lays the foundation for some creepy shit. There is definitely something weird going on at Blackwell Academy. Life is Strange isn’t afraid to go to some creepy places. There is definitely a sub-plot involving date rape. I’d imagine this scenario is not going to put me in the shoes of the valiant White Knight who will mount his steed and prevent this harmful act before it can occur but in the shoes of the quiet introvert who has to pick up the pieces of the broken victim it happened to.
Girl World is no less interesting than Planet Man and Life is Strange is a great example of that. Wrapping game mechanics around a female driven narrative doesn’t have to produce shit. Kudos to Square-Enix for believing in this project.
The Jaded Gamer